When preparing for a mid-term or final exam, who hasn't reached for a highlighter? The familiar neon yellow marker seems like the perfect study tool, but research shows when students re-read notes and textbooks peppered with yellow streaks, they show no improvement in learning. Using a highlighter is actually considered a poor choice for creating permanent memories. Instead, consider more proven methods.

1. Literally kickstart your routine

Recognize the importance of proper blood flow. Hunching over a computer or stack of notes for too long can result in a lack of concentration. If this happens, take a couple of minutes to bounce one of your legs to get things moving. Take a five-minute exercise break, or walk up and down a flight of stairs.

2. Slow and steady

Don't get overwhelmed. Make an effort to break up study sessions. Instead of trying to take everything in all at once, pace yourself. Try to absorb a little information at a time. You're more likely to retain what you've learned.

3. Fuel your body

There's a reason they call it the most important meal of the day. Never skip breakfast. Protein is essential to nourish your brain and prevent headaches. For many people, their most creative hours take place in the early morning.

4. Nap it off

Get some rest. In a study published in 2014, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center found that deep sleep after learning encourages the growth of connections between brain cells, helping to retain memories.

5. Be fast and furious

Consider speed-reading, as it's often a great way to do weed out unnecessary information. Reading at a slower pace can actually make it more difficult to process basic ideas. For online reading, the free Spreeder web-based application is an option.

6. ¿Comprende?

Be sure you comprehend the material. Plodding through the information and trying to memorize it usually won't serve you well in the end.

7. Take the lights down

Being in the dark isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes, the best way to focus is to sit in a room free of lights – and distractions. This simple approach can help you focus on what you're trying to accomplish.

8. Treat yourself

If you're really struggling to focus while studying, select some sort of treat in advance . Whether it's indulging in a small bowl of ice cream or soaking in a soothing bubble bath, knowing you've got something to look forward to can help you stay in the game.

9. Get cozy

When cramming for that big exam, even wearing the right clothes can help. Steer clear of tight, restrictive ensembles. Instead, opt for sweats and a baggy t-shirt. Also, check the thermostat. If it's too warm or too cold, it could make you drowsy when trying to concentrate.